The number of chips shipped that include Bluetooth functionality is set to grow by nearly 100 percent between 2011 and 2017, thanks to growth in wireless combo ICs and mobile SoCs used in smartphones and media tablets, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.
Shipments of ICs that include Bluetooth are set to rise to 3.1 billion units in 2017, up 91 percent from 1.6 billion in 2011, according to a new report on the state of Bluetooth technology by IMS Research, which is now part of IHS.
Shipments of standalone Bluetooth chips are substantial, but the market today is dominated by combo ICs that support Bluetooth and other wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, IHS said. But the fastest-growing segment of the Bluetooth chip market is mobile SoCs—shipments of which are expected to rise by a factor of 18 from 2012 to 2017, IHS said.
"Smartphones and media tablets are packing increasing capabilities into products that have a lower cost and a thinner form factor," said Liam Quirke, connectivity analyst at IHS, in a statement. "All this is driving demand for more highly integrated ICs, including Bluetooth-enabled connectivity chips and MSoCs."
According to Quirke, most of the leading smartphone platforms already make use of integrated connectivity ICs. They will increasingly adopt Bluetooth-enabled mobile SoCs in the future, Quirke said.
Combo connectivity ICs accounted for 75 percent of total Bluetooth chip shipments in 2012, IHS said. But, due to the rise of mobile SoCs, the combination chips will see their share of the Bluetooth market decline to 55 percent in 2017—though their shipments will continue to rise as the overall market expands, IHS said.